Am I Divorced?

The question is all too frequent. Am I still married? How can I find out if my spouse divorced me?

If you and your spouse have been separated for a long time, the simple answer is that there is no easy way to confirm whether your spouse ever divorced you. You can check easily enough, of course, in the court for the area where you live. But what about the area where your spouse lives? And if you have lost touch with your spouse, how can you know where he or she has lived?

Unfortunately, the solution is to err on the side of safety. If you’re not sure that you and your spouse are still married, and it’s important to you to be single (for example, if you want to remarry), you have no choice but to get a divorce, even if you learn later that it was redundant.

Getting a divorce when you can’t locate your spouse takes a little extra time, but shouldn’t be inordinately expensive. You will typically follow this sequence:

  • You will file for divorce and persuade the court that you cannot after reasonable diligence locate your spouse. The court will then permit you to serve your spouse by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the area where you live.
  • You will publish a notice in that newspaper (typically for four consecutive weeks), providing pertinent information that your spouse could use to respond to your divorce complaint if he or she read it — and of course, there’s a REALLY SLIM chance your spouse will read it.
  • After the notice runs for four consecutive weeks, you are deemed to have accomplished service of process on your spouse. Now you must wait ANOTHER 30 days. At the end of that 30 days, you will file an application for default on the basis of your spouse’s failure to respond.
  • The court will set a hearing. At that hearing, you will provide testimony that confirms the court’s jurisdiction as well as the grounds for divorce. Then the court will likely sign a Final Judgment of Divorce.
  • There are some things you can do and some things you cannot do when you obtain your divorce by publication. You can get custody of a child, for example, and you obtain custody of property. Typically, however, you cannot get an award of child support until you actually get personal service on your spouse. Most courts are also reluctant to transfer property of a spouse unless and until that spouse has been served personally.

    175 comments

    1. Thomas Griswold says:

      I was married in September of 2004 to a spouse that was abusive and a sever alcoholic. I chose to leave her not even two months after we got married. I am currently engaged again after 4 and a half years of not seeing or hearing from her. I am trying to find out if I am divorced or not so that I can remarry again. Pleas help me out with this issue I am not sure of what course of action to take on this issue.

    2. Nora Cterino says:

      I was married for 62 days to a man who threw me against a wall and I sent him to jail for abuse. There is a lifetime restraining order and it has been 10 years since I knew where he was. I now need to know if at some point he divorced me. What do I do? I care for my elderly mom who has little income and I can’t afford to pay for a search. Can you please help me.

      We married in Polk County, FL but filed the papers in Brevard County FL in July 1999. There are no divorce records online there for anyone, only marriages. CAn you please please help me find a way to learn for free if he filed for divorce?

      I need to know ASAP. Please reply to my email address.

      Thanks in advance for your help. His name is William Earl Caterino, age 54 and he is likely to be in Brevard County, FL, likely Port St. John, Cocoa or Cape Canavera. please help! I’ve finally found a good man I want to start a new life with and I don’t feel right proceeding while possibly still married.

      If I’m NOT divorced, what is the fastest, cheapest way to get one so I know I can legally wed the love of my life?

      Nora Caterino

      • Lee Borden says:

        It sounds like there’s a good chance you’re still married. You need to file for divorce.

    3. Kevin L Hunt says:

      I am from SLC UT. I was maried 23 years ago in LV NEV. we were together less than 5 months. we broke up. a few years later she maried again am I still maried and if so did she break the law? what is my best corse of action from here?

      • Lee Borden says:

        Yes, she probably broke the law, and yes, you’re probably still married. If you no longer wish to be married, you’ll need to file for divorce.

    4. susn beley says:

      I have probelm I filed for divorce on Sept 14,2007 I mail the paper to my husband in Shawnee Correction he got in July of 2009 and I never got the paper back then I found out that he filed for a divorce without me signing the papers and he knew where I but he figure that I adbanded him because he is a abuser verbally abuse me
      finacally physically plus he is a sex offered his is Michael J.
      Beley and my name is Susan Marie Beley the file for my divoce is in the Daley Center in Chicago Illinois File number 298 7D09340
      Filed 5 please let me know if my husband signed my name on his papers which I never got thank you for your help

      • Lee Borden says:

        The only recommendation I could make is that you check with the court where you believe he filed this divorce and see if you can find it. If you cannot, and if you don’t want to be married any more, you’ll probably need to file for divorce.

    5. katie says:

      11 years ago my fiance’ married his 1st wife in texas. they remained together for 10 years & have 2 children together. nearly 1.5 years ago they seperated, he moved to ohio & shortly after their seperation(not a legal seperation) we got together. a few months ago we found out im expecting a baby. he wants to file for divorce asap & get custody of his children. his wife continues to threaten that he is committing adultrey by being with me & getting me pregnant. she keeps bringing up “spousal maintenance” although divorce papers have not been filed. although it is not a legal seperation he resides in a different residence then her can she file for support? she doesn’t work. also what are the first steps he should take to file the divorce? we are overwelmed with where to start. thank you.

    6. Lee Borden says:

      Sure she can ask for support, and she may get it. In any event, if your fiance is serious about pursuing a permanent relationship with you, he needs to file for divorce. He can file in OH because OH has subject matter and personal jurisdiction. But unless he gets her consent or serves her while she’s physically within OH, he may not be able to get personal jurisdiction over her in OH.

      For sure he can file in TX, but the disadvantage of doing that is that he will need to travel long distance to TX to litigate, while Mom can hop in her car and drive to the courthouse every time there’s a hearing.

    7. Jeffrey Welch says:

      Would be easier for a 7 year rule for me…my wife co-currently disappears…when I find her, she is on the rocks with the man who she cheated on me with. Then she wants me back…I feel bad… I have to say no…she disappears again. Very frustrating for me and my woman who wants to marry me and I want to marry her.

    8. kathy says:

      can you tell me this???? the man i married was married before his x filed her divorce but he dint sign the papers so does that make him still married to her even tho she divorced him and does that make our marriage noe leagle PLEASE say yes!!! i was told i may be free cause he is still married if he dint sign the papers

      • Lee Borden says:

        His not signing the documents does not mean divorce didn’t occur.

        I think you’re saying you would like to argue that you’re not married simply because he was not divorced when he married you. I can’t tell you that. It may be grounds for divorce, and it may even be grounds for an annulment, but your marriage to him is not void simply because he committed bigotry in marrying you. I’m sorry.

    9. Lee Borden says:

      Huh? If you’re asking whether a person can be divorced even though he or she never signed any documents, the answer is yes, absolutely. The plaintiff files an application to have the defendant declared in default, the judge hears testimony from the plaintiff, and the judge signs a divorce decree. Judges do that all the time.

    10. Marie Coats says:

      My bf was married and when they split up, his ex had a name change. She is remarried, but he does not know if she filed for divorce. Since she is remarried does that mean that she did? Also, is there anywhere that we can check to find out for sure, so that we can get married?

    11. Lee Borden says:

      Your question is the reason I wrote this post. If you can find confirmation that she divorced him, that’s all you need. If you can’t, then your fiance will need to file for divorce. Yes, he may be filing for divorce from a woman who is already married, but these days that’s no confirmation that he’s divorced.

      By the way, if he knows she’s remarried, is there any chance he can just call her and ask her?

    12. anna says:

      i was married in 1986 and by 1989 we split, he did not work or help with the child.we stopped talking in 1992,he said he would take care of the divorce since we didnt own anything and we werent fighting over the child,but i never received any papers, i was 18 then and didnt worry about it, i was just glad to be away from him. in 1995 i sent to austin,texas for a copy of the divorce and i got a letter saying there was no divorce,i let it go again, now its 2012 and i want to move on with my life, my son is 25 now, if no divorce has been filed yet i would like to get one, but i dont want him to know where i am or have to have contact with him, is this a possible?? it would just open a whole can of worms again and i am affraid of him.i live in houston,texas. this is a big reason that i havent taken care of this yet,because i am affraid he will find me, thank you,anna

    13. Lee Borden says:

      I would start by entering the phrase “Texas divorce can’t find spouse” in your search engine and just reading the information you find there. One thing I can state with certainty: this process is one that can be done, probably without disclosing your current residence address, but it is extremely technical and totally dependent on absolute compliance with the applicable statutes. That means this is NOT one of those things you can do yourself without a lawyer. It frankly shouldn’t be all that expensive, but it needs to be done right the first time, and there are about 36 different ways to do it wrong.

    14. Anonymous says:

      me and my husband was married for twenty years we have been apart one year .if he he filed for divorce shouldnt i be served papers?

    15. Lee Borden says:

      Under normal circumstances, yes. However, if he can show to a judge that he cannot with reasonable diligence locate you, the judge may permit him to get service of process on you by running a notice in the newspaper of record for the place where he lives, even if it’s different from the place where you and he lived together when you were married. One thing you can do easily is to ensure that he knows where you live at all times AND THAT YOU CAN PROVE he knows. That makes it impossible for him to move forward with a divorce without notifying you.

    16. dianna rosas says:

      I have married for 17 years my husbend left me when i was two weeks pregnet i whant to know if we are still married i am over him i whant to marrie a really man

    17. Vanessa says:

      My father was married in 1983in Oklahoma. He thought they were devorced around 84. He has been married 3 times to other women since then and is currently married now. A few days ago the ladies daughter contacted my uncle saying that her mom is trying to get custody of her grandchildren but is having issues because she is still married to my dad. What do we need to do???

    18. Angela E says:

      My Dad divorced his wife in Maryland, but they were also married in El Salvador. Does he have to go through the whole divorce process again in El Savdor or is there a way for the divorce from MD suffice in El Salvodor too?

    19. Shantel says:

      my fiance is in prison and he filed for a divorce when he was in prison the last time he’s not sure if it went through or what happened how can we find out if it went through so we can get married?

    20. Shatner Manzanares says:

      My fiance is in jail in Colorado and he filed for the divorce in 2005 now we are not sure of it went threw! And he is still in jail… how can I find out if their divorce went threw, so we can finally get married!

      Please answer this comment… I’m totally clueless on how to go about any of this…

      Thank you for your time…

    21. leola tate says:

      I just want to know if im still married to my spouse we been separated since 2004 and i don’t want to start a new relationship without knowing if im still married

    22. Shepelia hammons says:

      Hi i am trying to find out how can i get a divorce from some one that as already married several other people.while still married to me.what can i do.help

    23. Terri says:

      If one is married twice to the same person….the second time was for renewing vows….but, both times the paper’s were legally registered, would one need to get divorced twice, as well?

    24. Aaron says:

      Me and my wife have been separated for five yrs. She moved somewheres in Texas. And we have not had any contact since then. I would like to know if we’re divorced or not so I can move on with my life.

      • Lee Borden says:

        I don’t think there’s any way you can find out if your wife has filed. The safe course is to initiate divorce at your end.

    25. tammy s. says:

      I am trying to find out if my husband divorced me.I ask him to leave three years ago.I ask his grandmother if he got divorce but she wont return text or call me.do I just go to courthouse and they can look it up?

    26. Elizabeth says:

      I was marriage on 2003 we where together for 9 months then we lost touch each other after 4years I found it in Facebook on the 2007 and I send the papers for the dissolution of marriage signed and file them on the court and the lady told that was it I was divorce on my head I always. Think I was divorce we didn’t had property’s no kid’s nothing on the 2012 I got marriage again now I have 2 kids I’m not legal resident I’m wanna fix paper and I need the the papers from the divorce I went to the court and got the all the file and it’s said the they return the paper in the old address I move years ago back then I didn’t know that u need it to change address change in the post office and now I don’t know what to do please I need help what do I do

      • Lee Borden says:

        I think you’re saying that the divorce you thought you had filed was never granted, which means it’s long since dismissed. If that’s the case, you need to start over and file for divorce again.

    27. Anonymous says:

      I got married in 2007 he came into money and left I don’t know or do I care where he lives he left in October 2007 yes the next month I just want to know if I’m divorced he said he would take care of where can I find out for free

      • Lee Borden says:

        I don’t know what to tell you beyond what’s in the main piece. My guess is that you should initiate divorce on your own.

    28. verrita says:

      HELLO…IF YOU BEEN SEPARATE FROM YOUR SPOUSE OVER 16 YEARS BUT SHE WON’T SIGN THE DIVORCE PAPERS. SHE WANT US TO GO THROUGH A JUDGE …WE HAVENT BEEN LIVING TOGETHER OR HAD SEXUAL CONTACT WITH EACH OVER 16 YEARS & WE DONT HAVE NO KIDS TOGETHER…PLEASE HELP!!

      • Lee Borden says:

        Your wife has every right to refuse to sign papers, so it sounds from your post like you need to listen to her and find out what her objection is. No, I mean really listen.

        It’s possible the two of you will be able to negotiate the terms of an uncontested divorce, but it’s also possible that you won’t and that you will simply need to file for divorce and wait for a trial to sort it out. For what it’s worth, a tiny portion of divorces actually take that long; the overwhelming majority are resolved by agreement before a trial becomes necessary. It’s just that the closer you get to a trial, the more money both of you will have spent on lawyers. So if you can truly listen to each other now and avoid all that expense, it will be money in the bank for both of you.

    29. Tracy says:

      I would like to ask you a question I signed divorce papers over two years ago I received a letter saying that my divorce was denied because my ex didn’t follow through with the paperwork I never received theDivorce decree I don’t know if I’m married or divorced

      • Lee Borden says:

        Every indication is that your divorce did not become effective and that you are still married. If you no longer wish to be married, and if you cannot contact your Ex and confirm that a divorce occurred, you should initiate divorce on your own.

    30. Debra Norwood says:

      I left my husband twelve years ago with the clothes on my back, i left social security cards, marriage license, all legal documents. I left him due to his drug problem. I have no where abouts of him. I dont remember family address or phone number. He is messing up my disability income by claiming me through his V.A.benefits. I have no where abouts or seen him in years. Do i consider myself divorce.

      • Lee Borden says:

        Absolutely not. You consider yourself married, because you are married. If you want a divorce, you’ll need to file for one.

    31. Anonymous says:

      My spouse disappeared almost ten years ago, and took my son. I woke up and they were gone. I have reason to believe that they’ve fled the country but I don’t know why. Can I file for divorce without ruining the chances of gaining custody for a missing child? My spouse was abusive so I’m worried sick thinking about what sort of life my son might be living right now… I also live in Texas, if that helps. Thanks.

      • Lee Borden says:

        Clearly, you can get a divorce. And if you genuinely have no idea where your husband might be now, it’s relatively unlikely – not impossible, but relatively unlikely – that your husband would learn of your address. That having been said, there simply is no guarantee that he wouldn’t eventually find out about it.

    32. Trish says:

      I have been separated from the guy I married since February 2005. He was deported to Mexico in July 2005. I haven’t seen or heard from him since. I was told by some of his family that he married someone else in Mexico. A couple of years ago I was told that he is dead, but haven’t found proof of that either. How do I go about making sure one way or the other that I either a widow or divorced.

    33. Amanda says:

      My parents have been separated for 8 years. Any property they have now are just household items they accrued after separating. My father wants a divorce but cannot afford a lawyer. Can we get an online divorce or file ourselves even if she doesn’t want one?

    34. Claudia Hernandez says:

      Hello my name is Claudia. I have been seprated from my ex husband for 17 years he was abusive he had avgun was going to shoot me I left never went back I was to scared I left everything I took him to court was the last time I seen him I want my divorce if I don’t have one canbi get help to get one

    35. Rose says:

      Long beach, California-need help! I paid $500.00 back in 2007 “quick divorce” my husband and I both signed it. He left, I had so much going on at the time never filed my divorce papers. Are they still good to file at “long beach court house?” Or do I have to start over. Kids are adults now. Thanks

      • Lee Borden says:

        You would need to address your question to someone who understands domestic relations law in CA. In my state, the answer would be no, you need to start over.

    36. Lily says:

      My husband left for someone else after 4 years of marriage. He had someone sign my name on papers and the divorce was granted. It has been 7 years and I would like to know if I can get an annulment. I had many reasons to file for an annulment while married to him. If it is forgery, is the divorce void? In TN. TY.

      • Lee Borden says:

        You can seek to have a divorce set aside on the grounds that it was the product of fraud, but if you have known about the fraud for a long time and did nothing, you may be estopped from asserting the fraud now.

        You haven’t asked me to react to your grounds for annulment, so I won’t. I will note, however, that many people who think they’re entitled to have their marriage annulled are not.

    37. Stephanie says:

      I’m Stephanie and I got married to a younger girl Bonnie we didn’t know each other that long but it felt right but I learned they my mistakes
      Got married dec 31st 2015 lasted only three weeks she packed and left never heard from her again ever
      On the marriage certificate there’s a line in there that says 2/29/2016 is expectation date
      What’s that mean we got married in at johns county fl
      Does this mean anything please I need information ty

      • Lee Borden says:

        You’ve got me. I suppose the “expectation date” is either the expected date of your marriage, or the date on which one of you was expecting a child. Otherwise, I don’t know. Couldn’t you settle it by calling the office that issued the marriage certificate and just asking what the date means?

    38. Maria Rivera says:

      Hello. I was married back in 1988 in NC. We then moved to NY. I left the marriage two years later due to domestic violence. My ex was deported to Trinidad in the early 2000s. He has remarried and has 3 children. How can I find out if I am divorced or how can I file for divorce when he lives in another country? Thanks for your help.

      • Lee Borden says:

        I don’t know how to check in Trinidad; I guess you would need to ask a lawyer there to help you. Checking in NC should be easy.

        • Maria Rivera says:

          Thanks for responding. Should I just file for an uncontested divorce?

    39. STEVE says:

      I have just found out that my wife ? is getting married tomorrow, I have never recieved any correspondence to inform me of my devorce she is aware of where i work and could have sent any notifaction there

    40. Amy says:

      Hi My husband left me in September 2015 on my birthday and I haven’t heard from him since then and I know where he was suppose to have gone to but I don’t know if he is still there.My kids are not his and his name isn’t on anything here. Can I get a divorce smoothly without a problem or could he fight it?

      • Lee Borden says:

        Sure he can fight it. I would try to reach him, and be prepared to show you did so conscientiously. If you can’t find him after earnestly trying to reach him, you can ask your lawyer to file for service on him by publication. It takes a while, but eventually you’ll be divorced.

    41. Amanda Smith says:

      Okay so my husband was married twice before me and than in 2004 his wife at the time left him and also left state I don’t know when but he thought he was divorced and married his second wife is the same County as the first wife if he was still married to the first wife how did he get remarried? And than in April last year in 2015 he got a divorce from his second wife again if he was still married to his first wife how was this possible? And then how was he able to marry me in November? Are we married? Why can’t we find record of first divorce but we can of the second??

      • Lee Borden says:

        Marrying a man who’s married to somebody else doesn’t make you not married; it just makes you married to a bigamist. If you and this man wish to be married to each other and only to each other, you and he need to go see a good family lawyer and ask the lawyer to file for divorce from first wife.

    42. Brooke M White says:

      I filed for divorce and had him served 5 years ago. I never heard anything again about it. I want to marry again but can’t figure out if I’m still married.

      • Lee Borden says:

        Sounds like your case died because nobody pursued it. You’ll need to start over. I’m sorry.

    43. Anonymous says:

      I have been separated from my ex since 2005. I had spent 3 weeks in hospital where he patted himself on the back for being there with me the entire time. Truth is, his dope dealer ‘S wife happened to be on the same floor and I rarely saw him except when meals were brought in. The hospital staff and my doctor knew somewhat of, what was happening but never did anything about it because I wasn’t in any condition to be upset. When released from hospital I was sent to recuperate and regain strength. In the meantime anything that had any value what so ever was sold out of the house to feed his addiction. He also went neighbor to neighbor telling I had abandoned him and left him with no food. What happened to the food that was there, I haven’t a clue unless he traded it for drugs too. When I was about able to go home, I found out I had nothing to go home to. He even argued with me that I abandoned him. Every day I was away I tried calling him. He stopped answering the phone. I told him I couldn’t keep in touch with him if he didn’t answer my calls. Family took me in and for a while I didn’t know where he was but was told shacked up with a woman at his drug dealer ‘S place. He ended up in another state and about a year later started calling me. Told me he had spent 10 months in drug rehab and was clean now and sorry for his mistakes. On a job he took a bad fall and broke his back. Waiting on insurance claim to settle he ask if I would take him back if he came back to our state and got us a place to start over. So that was the plan. So I thought. I sent him every penny I could rake up to help him out while debilitated. All the time he was making plans with someone else when he got his settlement. She wasn’t in to keeping it secret as he was and oops, she let the cat out before he had planned. Out of all he had put me through, that was the most devastating, being so blindsided . I have lived with what has felt like a dark cloud over my head. When asked my marital status, I have no idea how to answer. I’m single but I am still legally married, I am married but I’m single. Having to explain this is not something I enjoy. Do you know of any legal support group or system that helps poor people such as I that NEEDS and wants a divorce but can’t afford one. I have been told I can obtain one for under 200.00. 200.00 might as well be 200.000.00 on my minimum SSI Disability payment. I live in NC In the Charlotte area. Thank you for any info or advice you can give.

      • Lee Borden says:

        You are married. You may not be happily married, but you’re married. Call the Charlotte Bar Association. They probably have a pro bono panel of lawyers who have volunteered to help people who can’t afford to pay a lawyer.

    44. Nellie Marie Brooks says:

      hi my name is nellie im hopping to find out what I can do to marry my true love I was married in 2007 never lived with the man I married don’t even no him I was in a bad time in my life an was using drugs the day I said I do how can I help myself to get any info on my marriage and can I get remarried if a divorce has been filed how can I get any information do I need to show divorce papers before I can get remarried please help me I’m very confused and don’t know what to do

    45. tina espinoza says:

      My spouse told my daughter that he and I are divorced but won’t tell me where in Texas he filed it at only that it was back in June 2015 how can I find out and where can I call to see I live in NC now

    46. I was married when I was seventeen.We lived in Monterey California.I left after a year and lost contact with spouse.He was in military so may have traveled around.We were divorced but it’s been over thirty years ago and honestly I have no idea if the divorce was filed from California or not.How do I find out so I can get copies of divorce papers? Thank you,jeanette

    47. Veronica says:

      I was married back in 1997 I found out two years later he was married in Mexico. We separated I have a child with him who is 17 years old. We have not seen him in over 16 years. I am trying to do a divorce pro se and I cannot afford to hire a lawyer to locate him to do a service by publication. Is there a way I can ask to waive having to hire a lawyer look for him and still do the service by publication or posting? He is somewhere in Mexico.

    48. my ex husband of twenty or so years says we are divorced since 1999
      but when I went to change back to my maiden name dmv said no
      now my ex has remarried a couple of times as to myself I never have .
      I am blind to everything he has done too me thur the years I have just become aware of in ourreleationship he took care of the banking , bills ect so now I need any kind of paper work information that will prove my innosents to the government ect helpme

      edith ann mcnatt

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